Trojans weather second-half comeback, defeat Bulldogs 76-67

Published 3:00 am Thursday, December 4, 2014

After thwarting several second-half comeback attempts, Troy women’s basketball battled to a 76-67 victory over Samford Wednesday night in Trojan Arena.

Sophomore forward Caitlyn Ramirez led the way for the Trojans, playing a complete game on both the offensive and defensive ends on her way to a 21-point performance.

Troy head coach Chandra Rigby called the win the most complete game her team has played all season.

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“I think we beat a really good team today,” Rigby said. “For the first time this season, they (the team) really came together as one to execute a game plan.”

The first half didn’t start exactly as Rigby and the Tojans would have scripted, as the two teams combined for four turnovers in the game’s opening minute.

And after Kourtney Coleman got Troy on the board first, the Bulldogs and Trojans traded baskets and leads for the first five minutes of the game.

But midway through the first half, the Trojans got their wits about them and clamped down on the usually very efficient Bulldog offense.

After Ramirez hit a jumper at 14:24 of the first half to put Troy up 12-11, the Trojans did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the half as they went into the locker room up 40-28. But Samford, as they did in their previous win over Big 10 defending champion Penn State, battled back in the second half.

The Bulldogs opened the second stanza with a 9-0 run to trim the Troy lead to 40-37.

But just as she has done all season, Troy junior guard Ashley Beverly-Kelley put an end the Samford run, hitting a 3-pointer early in the second half to extinguish the Bulldogs’ hot streak.

“Whatever needs to be done, I’m there,” Beverely-Kelley said.

And Ramirez, who scored 11 of her 21 points in the second half, came up big in the to help the Trojans weather several Samford runs.

Ramirez was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and locked down Samford guard Hannah Nichols in the game, holding her to just 6 points in the second half.

“I talked a lot with my coaches this week and throughout practice and everything that I just had to calm myself down and play the game that I knew,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t worried about anything tonight. I just knew that I had to stop No. 2.”

Troy saw their lead fall to as few as two, but the Trojans never trailed in the second half.

Rigby said the Trojans’ poise in the game is something the team is slowly learning as the seasons goes on.

“We were thinking the whole time, ‘The lead isn’t enough, the lead isn’t enough,’” Rigby said. “I would look at their (the players) faces and because there was a point in time…where I could see their shoulders drop, I could see their faces drop and it didn’t happen this time.”

The Trojans’ win over a team the caliber of Samford shows the progression of the team through its first six games of the season.

As far as Rigby is concerned, there’s no reason her team can’t go into the holiday season on a high note.

“We don’t want to lose another game before Christmas,” she said. “That’s all I want for Christmas.”